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Mentor vs. Riverside baseball: Cardinals christen new field with 10-5 victory

Mar. 29—It's a new field but the same expectations for Mentor baseball this season. The Cardinals began their 2024 campaign with the inaugural game at their new all-turf field against Riverside on March 29.

The hits came early and often for the Cardinals, but the Beavers kept it to a one-run game going to the bottom of the sixth. A pair of two-run hits late propelled Mentor to a 10-5 victory.

The Cardinals opened their season 1-0, as Riverside fell to 1-2.

The scoring started in the bottom of the first with Nick Square sending a single to right for the first run. Tyson Cendrowski and Brayden Botnick added runs in the first as well.

Square had a strong day from the plate, as he went 3-for-4 with three runs driven in.

"We were all grateful to be out here today and to get to play," Square said. "I had to deliver from the plate today since it wasn't the best day from the mound. Moving forward, we have to be a family. It doesn't matter who it is. It's just one guy after another. It doesn't matter who it is. We just need to put runs on the board."

He wasn't the only strong bat for Mentor on the day. Cendrowski drove in three runs and Jake McCartney added two. Both drove in a pair of runs for Mentor that pushed it from a 6-5 lead up to 10-5.

Coach Jeff Haase is pleased with how the depth of the Cardinals' lineup was able to impact the game, no matter what part of the order came to the plate.

"Riverside's a quality opponent. To get a win over them in our opener is a great way to start a season," Haase said. "Our guys did a great job of situational hitting today. We had runners in scoring position a lot today, and they cashed in. We have a lot of pieces and parts both in the lineup and on the bench. What I really like about the team this year is their unselfishness. They're willing to give up their at-bats if needed. If it's going to help us win a game, they're all for it."

While the bats were strong all through the contest, Riverside found its swing in the middle innings. The Beavers scored all five of its runs in the third and fourth innings.

They scored three runs in the third off an Austin Wittreich single and a two-run single by Liam Froehlich. Riverside took the lead in the fourth with a triple by Ethan Baker that scored a run, and Lelynd Chapman drove him home.

But the Cardinals displayed their maturity from last season and took the lead back with a Square triple that scored Max Vanhimbergen. Haase was happy to see the maturity from season to season in the field and on the mound.

"A lot of these guys have been starters since their sophomore years," Haase said. "It's been like baby steps, and we've been waiting for them to take those next steps. This year more than ever, they've recommitted, they're buying in and taking the time to see what we can do. There's no panic, I didn't see any panic in the guys when they took the lead. It was nice to see them playing loose. That's how we want to play all season."

While Square had a strong day from the plate, he didn't have as strong as a performance from the mound. He only recorded one strikeout in his 3 1/3 innings of work.

But the defense around him and Alex Dugach in relief was strong all contest, and he gave the fielders credit after the win.

"I have complete trust in all of my guys," Square said. "We're brothers. No matter good or bad, I have all the trust in them to make the right plays and get outs when the ball is in play."

Mentor stays at home and opens GCC play on April 1 with Euclid. Riverside has a short turnaround with a trip to Twinsburg on March 30.

THE SCORE

Mentor 10, Riverside 5